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Florence is a village in the northwestern portion of the city of Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. Having a thriving silk industry in the 19th century, the village was named in 1852 after Florence, Italy, for its own thriving silk trade in Europe.
The name "Florence" was suggested by neurologist Dr. Charles Munde, who also operated a hydropathic establishment there, named Florence Water-Cure.
From the very early days of Northampton till 1847, the locality now called Florence was known as "Broughton's Meadow." Soon after 1810 another name was applied commonly to this region, namely the "Warner School District." The Northampton Association of Education and Industry was started in 1842, and while it existed, the common term given to the settlement was "The Community." In 1848 these three names gave way to Bensonville, and when two years later Mr. Benson failed, and the old appellation became objectionable, the village was called Greenville, from the new cotton company.
In the fall of 1852 a meeting of the villagers was held in the South schoolhouse to choose a name for the place. Postal communication was soon to be established and a new name was desired. "Shepherd's Hollow" with its woolen mills, had been named "Leeds" after the city of Leeds in England, and the name of the great silk emporium of Italy was offered by Dr. Munde as a suitable appellation for this place. The pretty village, the clear stream, the silk mill, all suggested to his vivid imagination the proprietry of naming the village "Florence," and the stream "Arno." The citizens thought well of the neat and euphonious "Florence," and unanimously adopted it, but the "Arno" never replaced the historic term of "Mill River."
In 1832, Samuel Whitmarsh planted 25 acres (10 ha) of mulberry trees in Florence in order to raise silkworms.
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